How should you file a tax return during or after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2019 | Firm News

Going through a divorce can result in many major changes in your life. While you may look forward to at least some of those changes if your marriage was difficult and unhappy, you may also find yourself trying to get a handle on how to carry out certain tasks as a single person.

For instance, your divorce, or even pending divorce, may cause you confusion when it comes time to file your taxes. You likely got accustomed to jointly filing your taxes with your spouse, and now, depending on your exact circumstances, you may need to complete the process differently.

File joint or separate returns?

If you want to file a joint tax return, which can have certain benefits, you and your spouse must still be married. This could happen if your divorce is pending, if you and your spouse no longer live together, or if the court did not issue your court order indicating your finalized divorced by Dec. 31.

Of course, you could choose not to file jointly, and because the standard deduction works out relatively the same, you may not lose out on many major deduction benefits, especially if you and your spouse are on around the same level of income. Additionally, if you choose to file jointly, you could wind up owing a portion of any taxes owed after filing your return.

File as married or single?

Again, even if you know your divorce is pending or that it will finalize soon, that fact may not give you the ability to file as single. If the court did not finalize your divorce by Dec. 31, you must file as married, even if you already consider yourself single despite the lack of a court order. You may want to further explore the IRS rules for this subject to ensure you file correctly.

Who claims dependents?

If you have kids, you may wonder who gets to claim the children as dependents when you file separate tax returns. This concern is understandable because having dependents may lower your tax obligation. In efforts to avoid issues with your tax return, you may want to remember that only one parent can claim a particular child. For instance, if you only have one child, you and your ex will need to decide who claims him or her as a dependent. If you have two children, you may each claim one.

Filing taxes is often complicated as it is, and now that you are going through a divorce or have finalized your divorce, you may feel at a loss as to how to file correctly. Fortunately, you can seek help with this task. An experienced Connecticut tax attorney can help you understand how your relationship status may affect your tax return and assist you in filing your return correctly.